Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA
Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

Plans afoot for nuclear build programme - Mantashe

By Siyabonga Mkhwanazi Time of article published May 29, 2021

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Cape Town - Minerals and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has confirmed that plans were afoot for the procurement of nuclear energy to boost energy security in the country.

He said to ensure energy security they want to complete the procurement of 2 500MW of nuclear energy by 2024.

Mantashe told Parliament, in a written reply recently after IFP MP Themba Msimang asked him about this, that nuclear was still part of the energy mix of government.

The government has for some time said it would continue to pursue an energy mix policy including hydro, gas and nuclear.

In his written reply Mantashe said the Integrated Resource Plan of 2019 directed government to start preparations for the procurement of 2 500MW of nuclear power.

However, this must be done at the scale and pace that the country can afford.

The government has said it would not procure nuclear if it was above its balance sheet.

Civil society has in the past criticised government over nuclear saying it was unaffordable and South Africa did not need it at this stage.

But Mantashe said they would get nuclear at the scale and pace that they can afford.

He said the decision on who the government will procure nuclear energy from will be known after the tender processes have been finalised.

But for now the government had issued a request for information to test the market.

This would then be followed by the request for proposals.

“The Integrated Resource Plan 2019 directed the government to commence with the preparations for a nuclear build programme to the extent of 2500 MW, at a pace and scale that the country can afford because it is a no-regret option in the long term.

“To implement this decision, in June 2020 the department commenced with the preparations, including issuing a non-binding Request for Information (RFI), to test the market’s appetite for the 2500MW nuclear new build programme.

“In terms of the Electricity Regulations Act, 2006, the department has submitted the Ministerial Section 34 determination to request the concurrence of the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) for the procurement of additional 2500MW from nuclear energy. The department is awaiting NERSA’s decision on the Ministerial section 34 determination,” said Mantashe.

“Subject to the regulator’s approval, the department will issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the procurement of 2 500MW nuclear new build programme, at a pace and the scale that the country can afford. As indicated in the IRP2019 decision the department targets to procure the 2500MW from nuclear energy.

“The decision from whom to procure the 2500MW nuclear energy will only be known once the procurement process has been concluded and successful bidder(s) appointed.

“This decision has not been made at this stage because procurement has not started. The Department is still awaiting Nersa’s verdict on Ministerial section 34 determination.

“To ensure security of energy supply and in line with the Medium-Term Strategic Framework 2019-2024, the department plans to complete the procurement of the 2500MW nuclear new build programme by 2024,” said Mantashe.

Political Bureau

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